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Count Down 100 Movies from 2013 (Multiple users) Tele page 20

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Another great write up

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Great write up but I thought cage was terrible in the croods.

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Lee Daniels' The Butler -- It's perfectly fine. All the presidents were awful and it's about as subtle as a pie in the face, but the civil rights stuff worked well and I liked Forest Whitaker's performance. It's the definition of a 3/5 movie. 

 

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug -- Just awful. It's incredible the same guy who made three of the best films ever was behind this shameful dreck. It is horrendously directed. Boring, ugly, sloppy, pompous and in general one of the worst blockbusters of the year, and certainly some of the worst  special effects I've seen since the 90's. I mean by god, what the hell were they thinking with the effects? At times they couldn't do basic green screen effects, let alone a river of gold which looked like something straight from a 2003 Playstation 2 game. I didn't like it, and I can't understand why people think it's better than the first Hobbit which I liked very much. 1,5/5

 

We're the Millers -- It's not as funny as it ought to be. I chuckled about four times which is simply not enough for a comedy that's nearly two hours long. 2/5

 

Trance -- Danny Boyle at his weakest. I'm sure it's really clever, but honestly I couldn't bother keeping up with the increasingly convoluted plot. It's like Inception except boring, introverted and with all the entertainment value and spectacle taken out. 2/5

 

To The Wonder -- It's nowhere near as good as The Tree of Life, a movie I'm very fond of, but it is very pretty. Definitely needed to be 90 minutes instead of two hours, though. 2,5/5

 

Escape from Tomorrow -- Really liked this one. Can't really explain why, it's just fascinating. Also has one of the best musical scores of the year courtesy of Abel Korzeniowski. 3,5/5

 

The Bling Ring -- Boring boring boring boring boring. And this is coming from someone who has really enjoyed Sofia Coppola's previous works which have often been accused of being boring and up their own ass. 2/5

 

White House Down -- Didn't see it. 

 

Thor: The Dark World -- Well, it's not as bad as The Hobbit so it's got that going for it. 1,5/5

 

Warm Bodies -- One of the more positive surprises of the year. Funny, lovable nonsense. 3/5

 

Ain't Them Bodies Saints -- Didn't particularly care for it. I barely remember this movie now that I think about it. It was well shot, I guess. 2,5/5

 

The Croods -- I liked it. It was.. good? Well-animated? Chucklesome at points? Fuck it's hard work coming up with this shit. I don't know how you do it, Gopher. 3/5

 

Only God Forgives -- Smug, self-indulgent garbage. Fucking hated this movie. People walking, someone gets killed. More walking, someone sings karaoke. More walking, more killing, more walking, more karaoke and some more walking. It's almost like a test to pretentious film snobs: see if you can find deeper meaning in this thing, see if you can pick those pieces of corn from this giant shit Nicolas Winding Refn just took all over the collective face of the audience. 1/5

 

World War Z -- Much better than I expected. The Jerusalem sequence came close to ruining the whole thing but the final 20 minutes in the laboratory make up for it. 3,5/5

 

The To-Do List -- Didn't see it.

 

Ginger and Rosa -- Boring, forgettable, not good, next please. 1,5/5

 

The Last Stand -- Utter waste. They had Arnold Schwarzenegger and they didn't give him anything interesting to do. 1,5/5

 

American Hustle -- Didn't see it. 

 

Zero Charisma -- I like the script but it's not very well directed, the whole thing feels like something that escaped from YouTube, and they desperately needed a better actor for the main role than the one they got. 2/5

 

Blackfish -- Finally something good. Outstanding documentary on animal abuse. One of the best movies I saw this year, actually. 5/5

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Yeah, its not a contest, Only God Forgives is the worst movie of the year hands down, its offensively bad.  There is not a single memorable thing about that movie other than some of the imagery and hilariously stupid karaoke scenes.

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this is pretty cool. i've seen 4 movies this year. only god forgives seems to be extremely polarising, so i definitely want to see that. got some interest in to the wonder...otherwise, i don't know how you trawl through all this shit. :(

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#60: 42 

"I want a player who's got the guts not to fight back."

Yeah, yeah, I wanted to give 42 the 42nd slot too. However, I didn't quite like the movie enough to place it that high, and I would've felt compelled to do the same for MOVIE 43 and I would become so depressed that I would stop writing this list altogether. Anyway, 42: the whole film is as sappy as a maple tree, and writer/director Brian Helgeland approaches the Jackie Robinson story like a family-friendly 90s Miramax biopic would. Which I was fine with, because this is mostly a well-performed, well-directed, and mostly well-written film. However, maybe it was the overbearing score, or the tiresome "this is what happened to all of these real people" credits sequence, but I didn't feel they stuck the landing. An overall story arc could have been fairly beneficial, as we get a film with a more than a few pacing issues and some surprisingly shoddy editing. But when it works- Robinson destroying the bat immediately comes to mind- it really works. Chadwick Boseman was great, Alan Tudyk was almost lovable as a racist nitwit, and Harrison Ford looked like he actually cared. 

 

#59: THE EAST 

"Lie to us, we’ll lie to you. Spy on us, we’ll spy on you. Poison us, we’ll poison you."

Zal Batmanglij's follow-up to the creepy, heartwarming SOUND OF MY VOICE follows an anarchist group targeting major corporations and the private intelligence operative (the talented and beautiful Brit Marling) who faces conflict when she falls in with them. I wish the film would've gone more deeply into the moral dilemmas the movement places itself in, but at least until the ending (which without spoiling undermines a major character decision) is nonetheless a crisply paced and compelling thriller. 

 

#58: ROOM 237

"You're scared of Room 237, aren't ya?"

One may look at all the inane theories that the subjects of this documentary hold aboutStanley Kubrick’s THE SHINING as a waste of time. And one may be right—the ideas range from Kubrick making a statement about Native American relations to his work on BARRY LYNDON to the holocaust—but that’s not really the point of the film. I saw ROOM 237 as a love letter to Kubrick--the actual truth to these theories felt secondary to their love of not just THE SHINING but all of Kubrick's life and filmography. On that level, I could relate. 

 

#57: MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

“Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever; - 

One foot in sea and one onshore,

To one thing constant never.” 

I imagine attending one of Joss Whedon’s brunches in which his famous friends stage readings ofShakespeare plays would be more enjoyable than watching the adaptation he shot while on break from THE AVENGERS, if only because this movie shows off his lovely, lovely house. But hey, I can’t really complain. This is an enjoyable,pointed take on the play, filled with fun performances by Whedon series alums.

 

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#56: DESPICABLE ME 2

"I am the league's director, Silas Ramsbottom"

"[giggles] Bottom."

DESPICABLE ME 2 isn't a great animated movie, nor is it better than its decently good predecessor. The story doesn't involve all of the characters as organically as the first, and the subplot with Gru's love interest feels uninspired. But audiences come to these movies for the Minions, and they never disappoint me. Some may not find these like walking, mumbling cheese puffs who cause absolute chaos amusing, but there are multiple scenes in this film of Minions singing that absolutely cracked my shit up. These guys are this millennium's LOONEY TUNES and I'm glad they'll be around for a while.  

 

#55: DON JON 

"My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. My porn. My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. My porn. My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. My porn. My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. My porn. My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. My porn. My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. My porn. My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. My porn. My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. My porn. My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. My porn. My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. My porn. My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. My porn. My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. My porn. My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. My porn. My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. My porn. My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. My porn."

Pretty good film. I liked it. 

 

#54: THE HEAT

"That cat took one look at your shitty, shitty life, and said nooooo fucking thanks."

THE HEAT is funny enough to work for me. The banter between Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy is strong enough to outweigh a flimsy plot about a drug cartel. The humor isn’t as eclectic or memorable as BRIDESMAIDS', but Paul Feig manages to get infinitely funnier and more successful work out of McCarthy here than IDENTITY THIEF did.

 

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#53: CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 

"There's a leek in the boat!"

Food puns. Food puns galore. Like the Minions, they just get me. Like most sequels on this list, CLOUDY 2 isn’t as clever as the first, but it’s still a funny film and the colorful, JURASSIC PARK-inspired visuals of mutated food animals are breathtaking.

 

#52: FAST & FURIOUS 6

"It's all between you and the car. It's a bond. It's a commitment."

Justin Lin’s new entry in the FAST franchise is no FAST FIVE, which for me resurrected the series by being hugely entertaining and memorable. This heist isn’t as exciting as the last, now that Dwayne Johnson has been pushed to the sidelines instead of antagonizing Vin Diesel and friends. The final plane setpiece suffers from taking place at night with not enough lighting to tell what exactly is going on. But there’s a setpiece with a tank about halfway through the film,and as a technical achievement it may be an all-timer. The series has embraced physics-defying goofiness, but unlike the run-of-the-mill summer action flick, this series has given us characters that I care about, so I’m having fun with them. The seventh film may be irrevocably tainted by the loss of Mr. Walker (RIP), but I’m still looking forward to see Jason Statham as the new baddie.

 

#51: DRINKING BUDDIES 

"That's the problem with heartbreak, to you it's like an atomic bomb and to the world it's just really cliche, because in the end we all have the same experience."

Many romantic comedies seem to feature these creatures that emulate humans but don’t seem to speak or act like them very often. So it’s refreshing to see a performance like Olivia Wilde’s in Joe Swanberg’s new film that isn’t exactly a character but feels like “real” acting. She captures the motions and idiosyncrasies of people so that even though she still looks like Olivia Wilde, I could believe her as an owner of a brewery who falls for one of her best friends (played by Jake Johnson, who I may be in love with myself). Swanberg’s approach to dialogue is to roll the camera and let the actors figure out what to say based on where they know the scene is supposed to go. Usually this technique makes his films feel phony and pretentious (JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME) but the alchemy of this ensemble works.

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I'll aim to start mine on January 12 as between then I would have seen mandela, last vegas, frozen again, some of my 2013 Christmas Dvds I got and maybe walter mitty and 47 ronin

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#61 BLACKFISH

"Those are not your whales. Ya know, you love them, and you think, I'm the one that touches them, feeds them, keeps them alive, gives them the care that they need. They're NOT your whales. They own them!"

BLACKFISH has convinced me to never go back to SeaWorld. This is a powerful film that focuses on the mistreatment of orcas in certain marine mammal parks as described by five former SeaWorld trainers, and offers a peek behind the curtain that absolutely needed to be shown to the public. As far as documentary filmmaking goes, I do wish they addressed the fact that these trainers at SeaWorld were at some point in time complicit in acts that hurt the orcas, which could have been solved in the filmmakers asked why they didn't take any more immediate action. Otherwise, if you like whales, this movie will make you bawl

 

Bravo buddy.  This will make my top 10 of the year, but bravo for review of it.

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It's not my thread, but imho, I think we should leave our own write ups out of this one.  Wait till Gopher is done.  After his is finished, anyone else who wants to take the time to write theirs (and I'm in that camp), we can start a different thread for it.  Once everyone has had a chance to do it, then we can combine the threads.  But this one, imo, should be Gopher's alone.

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I really didn't like Despicable Me 2, and I rather enjoyed the first one. The Minions could only do so much to distract from how inane every story arc involving the human characters was.

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It's not my thread, but imho, I think we should leave our own write ups out of this one.  Wait till Gopher is done.  After his is finished, anyone else who wants to take the time to write theirs (and I'm in that camp), we can start a different thread for it.  Once everyone has had a chance to do it, then we can combine the threads.  But this one, imo, should be Gopher's alone.

That's what im going to d
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Solid list so far. You liked The East a little more than I did, but we do agree on a lot of stuff (as always...)

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I loved dm2 but cloudy was average- pretty Dissapointing after the amazing first one

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I remember at MOJO when we had our top 100 lists and did a description as well.  Of course it was our top 100 of all time-not the year.  I have another 67 to go before I get to 100 for 2013.

 

But these threads are great if people put some effort into them like Gopher is with this one.

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#50: JACKASS PRESENTS: BAD GRANDPA 

"Don't hurt me, don't hurt me!" 
"I'm 86 years old." 

There are many actors this year that deserve the praise critics and awards groups have lavished upon them, but Johnny Knoxville hasn’t been in the conversation and he genuinely deserves to be. For BAD GRANDPA, he literally transforms himself intoIrving Zimmerman, an elderly, infirm pervert set with the task of driving his grandson across the country to his negligent father. Knoxville is so game for the task of embodying Irving that I stopped viewing the performance as a stunt and began believing in the character. I don’t think any of the JACKASS films,no matter how funny or impressive the gags are, can really sustain an entire feature. But the writers of BAD GRANDPA (including Spike Jonze, who’s had a hell of a year) understand how to make the grandfather-son dynamic work. Resultantly, all the sharting and stripping feels like it comes from a place of love.

 

#49: V/H/S/2

"PAPA."

I’m a sucker for new, creative filming techniques in horror films (I even gave PARANORMAL ACTIVITY a shot, once upon a time), and the V/H/S franchise is predicated upon short horror stories that experiment with different perspectives. One is shown through a robotic eye placed in a character who begins to see dead people. One is from the GoPro camera of a biker who finds a zombie, which obviously goes totally well for him. None of these shorts, however, are genuinely scary… except for one. THE RAID:REDEMPTION director Gareth Evans' short SAFE HAVEN is one of the most terrifying film experiences I’ve ever had (it's not to be confused with the Nicolas Sparks adaptation SAFE HAVEN, which is probably also terrifying). It’s excellently shot and structured, with a twist that adds a great deal to the story. I dare not spoil the specifics for anybody. Seek it out.

 

#48: THE WAY, WAY BACK

"Don't die wondering, man."

Nat Faxton and Jim Rash's (co-writers ofTHE DESCENDANTS) debut feature is pretty good, and I like how the film intertwines two coming of age stories: the 14-year-old Duncan, who comes out of his shell when he starts working at a water park, and his mother Pam, who falls in with drinking and smoking with the other adult vacationeers and has trouble confronting her sleazy boyfriend (Steve Carell, admirably playing against type). The water park manager played by Sam Rockwell, however, is the real star of the film. He's charismatic as hell and he gets great comedic and dramatic material to work with. The role suits him better than anything else I’ve seen him play. The film is overtly familiar, but the kind of familiar I didn't mind returning to.

 

#47: ABOUT TIME 

"All the time traveling in the world can't make someone love you."

For the most part, time travel films tend to be all-consumed by the concept of time travel itself. Thankfully, Richard Curtis’ romantic comedy keeps its conceit simple: Tim (Domhall Gleeson) learns he is able to travel back in time, and he uses his power for romance and family. We don't get many movies about life and romance like this, ones that give us the time (HAH!) to grow with its characters and help us understand their relationships and decisions. We also don't get many romance movies in which the people in the film feel authentically crafted for the most part, instead of just archetypes of characters. This an unpretentious, straightforward look at appreciating moments in life before you lose them.

 

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#46: THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES 

"You fucked up my son's life; therefore, you fucked up my life."

Derek Cianfrance's BLUE VALENTINE exposed the intimacies and intricacies of a relationship falling apart before the viewer's eyes. His next film, a sprawling, multi-generational epic about the lasting implications of father-son relationships, is equally ambitious on a thematic level but ranges far wider on a narrative level. You feel the fear of a father in Ryan Gosling's motorcycle stuntman turned criminal and in Bradley Cooper's cop turned local hero. The film's stories sometimes feel derivative--there are elements of DRIVE and GOODFELLAS mixed in with Gosling's and Ray Liotta's characters--but the scope of the film won me over, as did the powerful score, stunning cinematography and performances. Bradley Cooper has never been better than he is here, not even in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. 

 

 

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We're *almost* almost there. 

#45: THE GREAT GATSBY 
"I knew it was a great mistake for a man like me to fall in love..."
Many were expecting disaster from Baz Luhrman's adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic. Who wants a lavish $120 million take on THE GREAT GATSBY filmed in 3D, for crying out loud? Apparently, I did. Even the 3D part. Aside from a few tweaks, Luhrman created a very literal adaptation of Fitzgerald's book to the point of flooding the screen with Nick Carraway's text (that wasn't exactly a good choice, but hey, you can't win them all). This felt akin to how Zach Snyder tried to recreate as many images as possible from the WATCHMEN graphic novel for his adaption, but unlike Snyder, Luhrman was working with an endlessly interpretable world that he needed to make feel just as fully realized. To help fill the space, he relies on strong performances from his whole ensemble (Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton are perfectly cast) and pop music that accentuates the action and helps make the Roaring Twenties feel relevant to today's world. The party sequences are dazzling, but not as dazzling as Leonardo DiCaprio's screen presence as Gatsby, who keeps the film watchable even through troublesome pacing issues in the second half. Unlike his off-the-walls craziness in THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, he gets a chance here to slowly peel back the layers of Gatsby and reveal a perpetually longing center. In doing so, I couldn't help but fall for him myself.

#44: SAVING MR. BANKS 
"I know what he's going to do to her. She'll be cavorting, and twinkling."

This movie was like cotton candy to me. As I kept eating, I knew the "cotton" was evaporating into sugar residue, but it still felt rich and tasty and I was more than happy to swallow it. But enough innuendo: I had some problems with the staging and pacing of THE BLIND SIDE's John Lee Hancock's direction, but his new movie succeeds on a strong screenplay and an ensemble full of great performances. Emma Thompson's P.L Travers, in all of her prudeness, is made empathetic by an emotionally involving backstory that intertwines well with the film's central narrative, and Tom Hanks does remarkable work as Walt Disney, the man trying to obtain the rights to MARY POPPINS from Travers. The role never feels like an impression or imitation of Disney, as instead he makes the American icon feel human. The surprise of the movie for me, however, was Colin Farrell's work as Travers' father from the scenes involving the author's childhood. This is a role that could have solely killed the film if they couldn't find an actor demonstrating right balance of genuine, loving father and frenetic, hopeless drunk, but luckily Farrell was up to the task. 

#43: 20 FEET FROM STARDOM 
“When you start listening for us, honey, we’re everywhere. Ev-ery-where!"
This is a documentary about the backup vocalists who nobody ever pays attention to in recordings or even live concerts, but are also the people who help make classics like "Southern Man" and "Gimme Shelter" sound awesome. The title is literal: the five women this documentary focuses on reveal the frustrations and rewards of a life spent just north, east or west of the spotlight, where Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Mick Jagger or others are performing (all of whom are interviewed for the film about their relationships with their backup singers). The movie never feels like it's condoning the singers who became also-rans or non-starters in the entertainment business--rather, exemplified by a 1969 late-night recording session of "Gimme Shelter," 20 FEET FROM STARDOM highlights honor and glory in being part of the process altogether. This is yet another documentary this year that gets pretty much everything right. 


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#42: THE CONJURING 
"The devil exists. God exists. And for us, as people, our very destiny hinges upon which one we elect to follow."
How good is THE CONJURING? I almost soiled myself while watching it. James Wan seems to adore 70s horror, because everything from the practical effects to the campy performances to even the way his camera zooms into the action feels old-school in the best way possible. What particularly affected me in THE CONJURING was... wait, I don't need to do this. I almost soiled myself while watching it. There, that's your recommendation. Now go away. 

#41: MONSTERS UNIVERSITY 
"Mr. Wazowski, what you lack simply cannot be taught. You're just not scary."

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY is not a Pixar classic--at this point I don't know if WALL-E, RATATOUILLE or THE INCREDIBLES will ever be topped. The film has a slow start as it reintroduces viewers to various MONSTERS INC. characters as college freshman, and I would have liked a longer third act so that the film could breathe and flesh out its themes a little more. Having said that, this still comes within spitting distance of MONSTERS INC.'s quality and humor for me. It's a wonderfully detailed movie and the hoards of Pixar animators deserve the most praise. Each frame is so deep, packed with jokes and characters and photo-realistic settings. I'll use a fancy word- the mise-en-scene is just splendid. And after two Pixar movies with troubling messages ("If you're a nitwit in front of other people, they're the ones who have to change, not you!" "Don't turn your mother into a bear!"), MONSTERS UNIVERSITY nails the story and themes. The message is powerful: it doesn't matter if you're not right for something as long as your passion shines through. It felt reminiscent of RATATOUILLE: anyone can scare! The last 20 minutes really shine on a surprising emotional level and they drive this theme home. 

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#40: ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES 
"You know what they call bats? Chicken of the cave."
I don't know if ANCHORMAN 2 works as its own film (separated from THE LEGEND OF RON BURGUNDY) considering how plotless it feels and how many callbacks are made, but I didn't really care. I'm pretty sure someone could have cut 30 minutes from this comedy to the film's benefit (Kristen Wiig and the blind subplot should have been the first to go), but I also didn't really care. The point is, 90% of what Adam McKay and Will Ferrell wrote for this script and what the ensemble improv'd in their scenes was, in my opinion, absolute gold. The whole entity feels like such a labor of love to the first ANCHORMAN that I could feel like everyone involved was giving the film all they possibly could. Resultantly, we have a whole new array of great comedy setpieces and memorable quotes. Not to mention Ron Burgundy singing about a shark. Just writing that last sentence made me want to go back out and rewatch it. 

#39: PRINCE AVALANCHE
"True love is just like a ghost - people talk about it but very few have actually seen it." 
Welcome back, David Gordon Green. After digressing from dark, original films like GEORGE WASHINGTON to Apatow comedies like PINEAPPLE EXPRESS to disgustingly unfunny comedies like YOUR HIGHNESS and THE SITTER, he's returned with a film that has married the best of his tendencies from both film worlds. Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch star as two road administration employees who spend a summer painting yellow lines on a rural highway, and each character presents separate, equally wrong understandings of women and relationships. The two actors get fun dialogue and physical comedy to play with, but the small, atmospheric nature of the film harkens back to Green's earlier indie work. 


#38: IN A WORLD...
"This Wednesday, one woman will teach another woman to sound a little less retarded."
I expected something as goofy and irreverent as CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL from Lake Bell's debut film, considering Bell and half of this film's cast star in the Adult Swim comedy. And while her screenplay about a struggling vocal coach who goes after a popular trailer voice-over gig offers its whole ensemble plenty of funny moments, she also demonstrates a knack for crafting characters and relationships that feel empathetic and organic. More memorably, she provides commentary on the successes and roadblocks in the film industry's ability to provide more opportunities for women to work, and she never feels cloying while doing it. This is an enjoyable, funny film and I'm excited to see what Bell does next. 

#37: SIDE EFFECTS 
"I'm not crazy, you know I'm not crazy."
Steven Soderbergh is possibly the most underrated director working today (or "who worked" today, since he retired from films this year). In the last few years alone, this guy made HAYWIRE, CONTAGION, MAGIC MIKE, served as a second-unit director on THE HUNGER GAMES, and had two awesome new movies this year as well. He's an expert craftsman, and only he could pull off so many twists and turns in SIDE EFFECTS without compromising his character study of Rooney Mara's possibly crazy Emily and his gripping takedown of the pharmaceutical industry. He plays the audience like a fiddle. Or at least just me.

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#36: BEHIND THE CANDELABRA 
"I want to be everything to you, Scott. I want to be father, brother, lover, best friend."
Am I cheating? This film received an HBO-exclusive release nationwide, but found theatrical distributors all over the world, so I figured listing it here is fair game. And besides, this is another Soderbergh film--his last before retirement from movies--that simply cannot be ignored. Michael Douglas is a wonder as the famed Las Vegas entertainer Liberace, and his performance ranges from charming to perverse and sad while always remaining captivating. His private relationship with Scott Thorson (Matt Damon, in another performance of great range and emotion) is surprisingly dark and full of paranoia between the two men, but forms an emotionally involving story accentuated by Soderbergh's amazing attention to detail in Liberace's gaudy mansion where most of the film takes place. The film may be "too gay" for Hollywood to distribute, but it's probably too good for them too. 

#35: PAIN & GAIN 
"Victor Kershaw is a criminal prick who deserves bad stuff to happen to him!"
Over the last six years, Michael Bay squandered any of my remaining goodwill towards him by creating three of my least favorite films of all time. That said, if someone could edit his new film down 30-40 minutes, PAIN & GAIN could've been a masterpiece. At some point, it was hard to keep laughing at the story of three real-life meathead bodybuilders who attempt to kidnap and steal from their gym member and subsequently become involved in crime after crime. However, as it is, this is still Bay's (intentionally) funniest film ever. Bay knew that this story was ripe for devising a twisted nightmare about the American Dream, and he almost entirely pulls it off. His strongest assets are his three leading men: Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Mackie are willing to go off the rails in awe-inspiring comedic ways, but the real story of the film is Dwayne Johnson, who plays a born again fundamentalist Christian and ex-convict in what is among of the best performances of the year. Seriously. I've always thought The Rock was charismatic, but Bay somehow got insane, lovable work out of him. These are the films Michael Bay needs to be making. 


#34: YOU'RE NEXT 
"Grab anything that might make a good weapon."

There's a moment pretty early on in YOU'RE NEXT that should tell you if you're on board with what the film is trying to do. In order to get out of the house and seek help from a group of masked assassins attacking a family reunion, the Davisons devise a plan to let the "princess" of the family (Amy Seimetz) get a running start out of the door. They figure that the killers won't be expecting any of them to try to escape from the house full-speed, but then something happens that is, in my mind, both hilariously horrifying and horrifyingly hilarious. This is what YOU'RE NEXT does: it squeezes every drop of wit out of brutal horror. The film demonstrates creative script and a kick-ass lead performance by Sharni Vinson can take you a long, long way. This is my favorite legitimate horror flick of the year, even if my next two picks below are scarier. 

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#33: PRISONERS 
"He's not a person anymore. No, he stopped being a person when he took our daughters."
A father's daughter is stolen and he needs to take the law into his own hands. Unfortunately, he's not quite a Liam Neeson: Hugh Jackman's Keller Dover can only suspect one man (Paul Dano) as the kidnapper, and the torture he puts this man through is viscerally and ethically terrifying. Jackman has never been this scary on screen, and Jake Gyllenhaal also has a great, understated performance as the detective working the other side of the case. PRISONERS isn't perfect, as I have issues with the 153-minute runtime and how the ending mitigates the film's intensity. Unlike ZODIAC, this story needs to have an ending, and the ideas that ran through my head of what happened to the daughters were always going to be scarier than their actual fate. However, PRISONERS remains a dark, meaningful, and emotionally complex ride. Don't watch it alone, and find something happy to watch afterwards. Best in all of the film, perhaps, is Roger Deakins' awards-worthy digital cinematography. He turns something as insignificant as a car coming to a curbside stop into a dark, foreboding shot. I've never felt this cold while watching a film.
 
#32: THE HUNT 
"The world is full of evil but if we hold on to each other, it goes away."
Mads Mikkelsen has turned in phenomenal work on the NBC show HANNIBAL this year, and his performance in this Danish film deserves just as much recognition. He plays Lucas, a Kindergarden teacher who is wrongly accused of molesting to a child, and he subsequently faces hysteria and violence from his town. It's astounding to watch Mikkelsen as his characters walks this line of infuriation and wrestles with simply existing in the new circles of hell surrounding him. Thomas Vinterberg brings grace to a film that could otherwise reach its meaning far too early; the emotional tension between Mikkelsen and his community is so strong that I started wondering at one point if he actually did it.

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#31: ENOUGH SAID 
"It sounds corny, but you broke my heart and I'm too old for that shit."
ENOUGH SAID is a successful, accessible portrait of the kind of contemporary relationships we don't see very often in cinema: middle-age love, in which characters like Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Eva and James Gandolfini's Albert have long been out of significant relationships and have now since settled into their own different rhythms as people. Louis-Dreyfus plays a constantly nervous woman who usually talks herself into corners, while Gandolfini's Albert is relaxed and just happy to have this neurotic mess in his life. Once their first-date hesitancy and jadedness breaks, however, Gandolfini and Dreyfus have magical chemistry, even as the film becomes a study on self-sabotage and the inane ways that love tortures us. On a sadder note, the film feels like an example of all the great roles James Ganfolfini could have taken, as he has never played a funnier or sharper character than here. I would say this was among his best career work, but that's not true: almost everything he acted in was among his best career work. 
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